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Faster-Than Light Particles Fail To Keep Up Pace In New Test

3/16/2012 11:43 PM ET

One of the basic principles of Einstein's theory of special relativity is that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light in vacuum - a concept that has remained unchallenged. However, doubts were cast on this pillar of modern physics, when in September 2011, scientists, of OPERA experiment (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus) in Italy's Gran Sasso National Laboratory, claimed that they had detected subatomic particles known as neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light.

The finding was arrived at by observing a neutrino beam from CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, 730 km away at Italy's INFN Gran Sasso Laboratory. Though the startling find baffled the scientific community, it was taken only with a pinch of salt.

Now, six months after the controversial findings of the OPERA experiment, more evidence to prove that Einstein's theory of relativity cannot be upended has emerged, following a new experiment conducted to repeat a test of the speed of neutrinos.

The experiment conducted by ICARUS group, also of the same lab - Gran Sasso laboratory , has now found that neutrinos travel at speed, equal to that of light, and they do not exceed the speed of light. This is in a striking difference with the reported result of the OPERA experiment that claimed that high energy neutrinos travel at least about 60 nano seconds faster than light.

The Gran Sasso experiments, BOREXINO, ICARUS, LVD and OPERA will be making new measurements with pulsed beams from CERN in May to give a final verdict related to the speed of neutrinos, according to CERN.

Commenting on the new development, CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci said, "Whatever the result, the OPERA experiment has behaved with perfect scientific integrity in opening their measurement to broad scrutiny, and inviting independent measurements. This is how science works."

by RTT Staff Writer

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